Richie Keen has been tapped to direct TV Land’s comedy pilot Teachers. Based on the popular web series, Teachers revolves around six elementary school teachers who are trying to mold the minds and lives of America’s youth, but they don’t really seem to have their own lives together at all. From making their class help them stalk exes online, to altering a grade because the art teacher is “kind of a bitch,” these teachers certainly are changing the world, one student at a time. Keen’s previous directing credits include It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, New Girl, Mixology and Sirens. He’s repped by CAA, Scott Fedro of Lonestar Entertainment, and attorney Adam Kaller.
In a widely anticipated move, FX has hit the power chord and ordered Denis Leary‘s music comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll to series. The deal just finalized is for 10 episodes to air sometime in 2015 and reunites Leary with the cable network three years after Rescue Me ended its seven-season run.
Created, written by and starring Leary, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll centers on Johnny Rock, played by Leary. The lead singer of NYC’s legendary early-’90s band The Heathens, Rock is trying to get the both his band and his life back together. John Corbett co-stars along with Elizabeth Gillies, Bobby Kelly and Elaine Hendrix. Leary and partner Jim Serpico are executive producing through their Apostle banner. It is produced by FX Productions and Fox Television Studios and will be filmed on location in New York City, with the plan to feature original music and occasional guest appearances by real rock stars.
“We have been honored by long-standing collaborations with both FX and Apostle, so it’s gratifying for us to be able to break new ground with them both,” FTVS President David Madden said in announcing the pickup. “Our partnership with Denis and Apostle has been one of our most fruitful ventures, and this time out fans will definitely see a different Denis. As both actor and writer, Denis plunges into dazzlingly original arenas of dark comedy and, along with a stellar veteran cast, the results are just really funny.”
USA Network is showing comedy creators that it is willing to stick with new series while they find their legs, giving a 13-episode second-season order to freshman paramedic comedy Sirens, from Fox TV Studios, Denis Leary and Bob Fisher. Sirens was the first original half-hour comedy series to launch under USA’s current push in the genre. It was a slow build but the show developed a following from a loyal core audience and even showed ratings growth over its run, despite losing its Suits lead-in halfway through. It ranks as the top new basic cable comedy series of the year among total viewers, averaging 1.62 million, and in adults 25-54 (870,000). “Sirens resonated with a broad fan base, and we are excited to grow this new audience further, as season two promises a lot more laughs and irreverent humor,” said USA Network President Chris McCumber. “We’re pleased to continue our partnership with Denis Leary and Bob Fisher, whose unique brand of witty, off-kilter and laugh-out-loud writing is brought to life by the immensely talented cast.”
After recently picking up three new drama series, Rush, Satisfaction and Complications, USA Network has kicked off its next drama pilot cycle with a cast-contingent order to Stanistan. The network also has announced a pipeline of original series in development, including an alien drama from Carlton Cuse, a church drama from Jodie Foster and Bob Cooper, a farm drama from Michael Bay and Dawn Olmstead, a frontier drama from Tony Krantz, a ski resort comedy from Jessica Biel, a family comedy from Peter Tolan as well as a limited series about the origins of the Mexican drug cartels from Gregory Nava. “This slate represents the next generation of originals at USA, with a focus on dramas that are more serialized, provocative and culturally resonant,” said USA president Chris McCumber.
Stanistan follows the staff at the American compound in the Middle Eastern country of Stanistan, where State Department workers, covert CIA officers and journalists strike a delicate balance of danger and silliness. From Universal Cable Productions, Stanistan is written by Andy Parker, who also is supervising producer, with Richard Scarth, Mary Louise Vitelli and Maureen Ryan (Project Nim) serving as co-executive producers. Steve Scheffer is executive producing.
ITV Studios continues its rapid expansion with another acquisition — a controlling stake in reality production company Leftfield Entertainment Group, which is behind such series as Pawn Stars and Real Housewives Of New Jersey. ITV will pay $360 million for 80% of Leftfield, with further payments dependent upon Leftfield’s profits. There are put and call options in place to buy the remaining 20% under which a call option can be exercised from three years after the initial deal and a put and call at the end of year five. The deal makes ITV Studios US Group the largest independent unscripted producer in the U.S., the company says.
The acquisition, brokered by About Corporate Finance, also gives ITV Studios a presence on both the East and West Coasts. Leftfield Entertainment, founded by CEO Brent Montgomery, follows ITV’s acquisition in the last 18 months of Gurney Productions, High Noon Entertainment, Thinkfactory Media and DiGa Vision in the US as well as UK producers So Television, The Garden and Big Talk.
Before being acquired, Leftfield Entertainment Group itself was a buyer — the company was created when Leftfield Pictures acquired Sirens Media last March, followed shortly afterwards by the creation of two joint ventures – Loud Television and Outpost Entertainment. Leftfield Pictures sold its first series in 2008 and the group now produces more than 300 hours of unscripted …
Heading into its upfront next week, USA Network has ordered comedy presentation Difficult People, executive produced by Amy Poehler. It will be toplined by Billy On The Street star Billy Eichner and head writer/co-executive producer Julie Klausner. Klausner wrote the autobiographical project, which will have Eichner and Klausner play versions of themselves, comedian friends living in New York. Andrew Fleming is directing the pilot for Universal Cable Prods. Poehler is exec producing with 3 Arts’ Dave Becky and Michele Armour of Marobru (Chappelle’s Show). USA ordered its first original comedy series in 15 years, Sirens and Playing House, at its upfront last year. Sirens just finished its run, with no word yet on its future, while Playing House – also featuring two comedians playing versions of themselves, Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair – just premiered.
Related: 2014 USA Network Pilots
MTV has handed out a cast-contingent pilot order to an untitled comedy project penned by young writers/performers Paul O’Toole and Andy St. Clair (Comedy Central’s Brickleberry). It centers on a 22-year-old Andy, who after catching his girlfriend cheating on him, accidentally rear-ends a celebrity, who takes pity on Andy and sets out to teach him how to man up. The pilot green light is contingent on casting the celebrity. O’Toole and St. Clair co-executive produce with Odenkirk Provissiero executive producing. Writing partners O’Toole and St. Clair both hail from Chicago where they met in the improv scene. (They’ve both have trained at Second City.) O’Toole and St. Clair most recently worked on Denis Leary’s USA comedy Sirens which is set in Chicago. The newly picked up project was their first script together that they sold. MTV took it in last year.
Fox TV Studios president David Madden has signed a new long-term contract with 20th Century Fox Television to remain at the helm of the boutique cable production company for at least four more years. Madden, a respected veteran TV executive and producer, was elevated to the top FtvS post in 2010 after a stint shepherding the company’s development as EVP creative development and production. He helped establish FtvS’ identity with such series as FX’s The Shield and The Americans, USA Network’s Burn Notice and White Collar, AMC’s The Killing – which he helped bring back from cancellation twice, once at AMC and once at Netflix. Because of the health of the company on Madden’s watch, FtvS was kept as an independent label after the company was put under the purview of 20th TV Studios CEO and chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman and not merged with 20th TV’s own successful cable arm, Fox21. “David encourages creators to take big swings, and the results have been breakthrough programs, from The Shield and The Killing to Burn Notice and The Americans,” Walden and Newman said. “He’s a smart, strategic leader who is beloved by both the creative community and his colleagues. We couldn’t be happier that he’ll be with us for many years to come.” In addition to White Collar and The Killing, which are heading into their final seasons, and The Americans, which is about to be renewed for …
Bravo Media has unveiled its slate of original programming at its upfront including 15 new series (two scripted), 16 returning series and three new projects in development. That includes Bravo’s first scripted comedy, Odd Mom Out, a half-hour series based on the life of author and fashionista Jill Kargman which captures the outrageous world of uber-wealthy momzillas of New York’s Upper East Side. It joins Bravo’s first scripted series, the recently greenlighted hourlong dramedy Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce. The upcoming unscripted slate includes offshoots of Bravo mainstays Real Housewives and Top Chef. Among returning series, the network has confirmed a second season of Below Deck, a third season of Don’t Be Tardy, a seventh season of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and Season 6 for The Real Housewives Of New Jersey. Returning this fall also is a 12th season of the Emmy Award-winning culinary competition series Top Chef, season 8 of The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 7, and The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills Season 5. Here are descriptions of Bravo’s new series and projects in development:
USA Network has given a 10-episode series pickup to the untitled drama pilot created by Sean Jablonski. The order marks a very quick return to primetime for former Glades star Matt Passmore who was cast as the lead in the USA pilot the second he was released from The Glades following the series’ cancellation by A&E. Produced by Universal Cable Prods., the Sean Jablonski project is described as a provocative drama exploring a marriage that has grown stagnant. It follows investment banker Neil Truman (Passmore) who accidentally discovers his wife’s (Stephanie Szostak) involvement with an escort. Jablonski, who helped get USA’s hit legal drama Suits off the ground as showrunner on its first season, is executive producing the new series with Russ Krasnoff (Community) of Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment. It will film in Atlanta, Georgia for a premiere this summer. “This is a powerful new addition to our drama slate and marks the next generation of sophisticated storytelling for USA,” said USA Network President Chris McCumber. The Sean Jablonski series continues USA’s efforts to expand its drama brand beyond the blue-sky, fun drama procedurals with appealing leads that put it on the map and propelled it to the top cable ratings spot. Those efforts have included darker cop show Graceland as well as the recently ordered six-episode thrilled drama event series DIG starring Jason Isaacs. With the pickup of Sean …
By this time, USA Network series White Collar would normally be deeply in preproduction, getting ready to start filming in March. But not this year. It’s already mid-February, and there is still no decision on the future of the buddy crime drama whose most recent fifth season ended two weeks ago. I hear there has been some communication between USA and White Collar producer Fox TV Studios but no meaningful dialogue so far. Given the way Season 5 ended — with a cliffhanger involving the abduction of Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) — it is safe to assume that there will be some sort of continuation, likely a conclusion for the series. The question is what that sixth and final installment will be. I hear the network has been mulling a short miniseries to wrap the story in the vein of Showtime’s The Big C, while the studio would prefer a traditional final season. While Collar‘s status as one of USA’s signature series would weigh in favor of the second option. All of USA’s other established series – Monk, Burn Notice (also produced by FtvS), Psych and In Plain Sight — have received a proper send-off with a final season (While USA prefers to announce the end of its series when their last seasons hit the air for tune-in reasons, all producers are told at the time of the final renewal so they can plan …
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Garcelle Beauvais has signed with APA across the board. The NYPD Blue and Jamie Foxx Show alum and former Franklin & Bash regular, who departed the TNT legal dramedy in 2012, guest-starred recently on Necessary Roughness, Psych, and Arrested Development and made big screen appearances in Flight and White House Down. She next stars in indie drama And Then There Was You, from helmer Leila Djansi. Beauvais is additionally repped by Luber Roklin Management and Edelstein, Laird & Sobel.
The Gersh Agency has signed writer-director Eric England (Madison County), whose low-budget STD horror flick Contracted was released by IFC Midnight last fall. The helmer is next set to direct TJ Cimfel-scripted Hellbent, about a woman who joins a rescue crew to look for her husband after a mining accident and instead discovers a demonic presence. England is also developing horror pic The Sirens with Barbed Wire Films’ Brad Douglas, in which a group of deep-sea fishermen encounter four mysterious young women and get hooked into a ritual sacrifice. He’s repped by Vol. Unlimited Entertainment and Miloknay Weiner, LLP.
USA Network has given a series order to comedy pilot Benched starring Eliza Coupe and Jay Harrington. The single-camera project hails from ABC Signature, marking the first series for ABC Studios’ boutique division. “Benched is one of those unique series that creates an immediate connection with the audience,” said USA Network president Chris McCumber. “The lead is played brilliantly by Eliza Coupe, who has undeniable chemistry with Jay Harrington’s character. Benched is a half-hour courtroom comedy that focuses on Nina (Coupe), a dedicated, career-driven corporate attorney who has a very public nervous breakdown after getting passed up for an expected promotion, and finds herself working as a public defender. Harrington stars as Nina’s new colleague, Phil, a tall, dark and handsome, if not a little scruffy, public defender and avid gambler. With Happy Endings alumna Coupe, Benched brings to USA a piece of the cult comedy series that USA came close to acquiring last year following its cancellation by ABC. Benched was written by SNL alumna Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones who executive produce with Party Down co-creator John Enbom and Mark Gordon Co.’s Mark Gordon and Andrea Shay. Benched is part of USA’s push in original comedy series. The first show to come out of that effort, Denis Leary’s Sirens, debuts March 6.
TCA: ‘Suits’ Influencing Young Viewers To Go To Law School, Not Show Ass Crack, Cast Members Say (Video)
UPDATED WITH TCA TRAILER: The cast and creator of USA Network’s Suits came to the TCA Winter TV Press Tour this morning and talked about the show’s impact on the nation. “It was a White House Christmas party a year ago,” reminisced cast member Gina Torres. “It was one of those things – ‘Oh, my God. We are going to the White House!’ And it was like Comic-Con for lawyers… politicians start off as lawyers, or they start off as businessmen — they are running companies, or they have lots of lawyers in their lives, or whatever it is. And I walk into this thing, and whether it’s pages or whether it’s, you know, the congressman from this or that, and, then, the First Lady’s chief of staff, says, ‘I love your show. We love your show’,” Torres said. Her thought at the time: “Is the First Lady, is Michelle watching the show?”
Suits returns on Thursday, March 6 at 9 PM after a triumphant third quarter in which it was a Top 5 program in the demo among all of TV’s primetime scripted series. Last October, USA gave the hit legal drama a 16-episode fourth-season renewal, and series creator and showrunner Aaron Korsh signed an overall deal with Suits producer Universal Cable Prods to continue on the show and develop new scripted series.
UPDATED WITH TCA TRAILER: “[USA] said ‘OK, listen, you can’t show the horse actually getting a blowjob’, and we said, ‘We know we can’t show the horse getting the blowjob,’ but, secretly, we were, ‘F*ck! We can’t show the horse getting a blowjob!’ ” Denis Leary told TCA critics this morning when asked the difference between making Rescue Me for FX and making his new series, Sirens, for USA Network.
Leary and Bob Fisher came to the winter TV press tour to talk about Sirens, premiering March 6 at 10 PM after the return of Suits at 9 PM. It moves to a single episode at 10 PM the next week, paired with a Modern Family repeat at 10:30 PM. The single-camera comedy follows three Chicago EMTs played by Michael Mosley (Pan Am, Scrubs), Kevin Daniels (Modern Family), and Kevin Bigley. It’s based on a British series of same name. Leary’s business partner, Jim Serpico, was approached by the British producers, who were fans of Rescue Me, wondering if they wanted to adapt it for the U.S. “We really liked those guys, and USA was pillaging the cast of Rescue Me and putting them into shows,” Leary explained. So they decided “we can make some money off these USA people,” he said.
Rescue Me co-creator/star Denis Leary is back in business with FX, this time on the comedy side. FX Networks has given a pilot order to Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, written by and starring Leary as a middle-aged rock ‘n roller who desperately wanted to be rich and famous but so far, he’s 0 for 2. The show will feature original music and occasional guest appearances by actual rock stars. The pilot, tentatively slated to film in the spring in New York City, is produced by FX Prods. and Fox Television Studios where Leary and Jim Serpico’s Apostle has a cable deal. Leary and Serpico exec produce. As is the case with most FX comedy pilots, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is being ordered under the FX Networks umbrella, with a decision whether the project would be for flagship FX or comedy-centric FXX to be made at a series pickup. “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is a terrific script and concept with Denis Leary’s signature brand of comedy,” said FX president of original programming Eric Schrier. “Denis is a tremendous talent who played a major role in the growth of our network with Rescue Me, which was one of the most groundbreaking series of the last decade.” Added Leary, “I am very excited to be returning to FX where working with Nick (Grad), Eric and John Landgraf has been one of the best creative experiences of my life. Plus I hear they have much better swag now.”
Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, which has no connection to Eric Bogosian’s play of the same name, is centered on Johnny Rock (Leary) who, as the magnificently talented lead singer of New York’s legendary early 90′s band The Heathens, was on his way to the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. His best friend Flash was being called the next number one lead guitar player on planet earth. The critics loved them. Their live shows were selling out. But Johnny had a problem with booze. And coke. And weed. And pills. And cough medicine. And oh yeah – he slept with Flash’s wife. And his bass player’s fiancée.
The second half of the 2013-14 TV season kicked off Thursday night with the series bow of ABC’s The Assets and season debut of The Taste. Here’s a rundown of the midseason shows that will hit the airwaves for the first time during between now and May 31, along with those returning for new seasons or coming off hiatus:
Downton Abbey (PBS, Season 4 premiere)
Revenge (ABC, returns from hiatus)
The Bachelor (ABC, season premiere)
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, Season 4B premiere)
Intelligence (CBS, series premiere; regular slot debut at 10 PM Monday, January 7)
Ravenswood (ABC Family, Season 1B premiere)
Justified (FX, Season 5 premiere)
Killer Women (ABC, series premiere)
Cougar Town (TBS, Season 5 premiere)
Psych (USA, Season 8 premiere)
Chicago PD (NBC, series premiere)
The Spoils of Babylon (IFC, limited series premiere)
Enlisted (Fox, series premiere)
Banshee (Cinemax, Season 2 premiere)
Helix (Syfy, series premiere)
Shameless (Showtime, Season 4 premiere)
True Detective (HBO, series premiere)
Girls (HBO Season 3 premiere)
House of Lies (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)
Episodes (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)
EXCLUSIVE: Back in July the USA Network legal drama star tweeted how he was “hooked” on the BBC America show. Well, now Patrick J. Adams is in Toronto today shooting a guest appearance for the upcoming second season of Orphan Black, I’ve learned. Suits’ Adams will play the character of Jesse on a yet undated episode of the clone-heavy sci-fi drama series. Described as a brave but regular guy, Jesse lands in a ton of trouble when the clone characters played by Tatiana Maslany enter his life. Season 2 of Orphan Black is set to debut on BBC America and Canada’s Space on April 19, 2014. Suits is scheduled to return for a third season on USA Network on March 6 next year. Adams is repped by UTA, Andy Corren Management and attorney Lev Ginsburg.
USA Network has set a midseason schedule, which includes drama Suits returning to Thursdays to lead into new comedy Sirens, USA’s first original half-hour comedy in a long time. White Collar also will air on Thursdays, while Psych‘s eighth season, expected to be the hourlong comedy’s last, will air on Wednesdays. The midseason premiere of Suits will be on Thursday, March 6 at 9 PM, followed by the debut of medical comedy Sirens, executive produced by Denis Leary, at 10 PM. (trailer below) Sirens will launch with two back-to-back episodes before switching to a single episode at 10 PM the following week, paired with a Modern Family repeat at 10:30 PM. Suits started on Thursday before moving to Tuesday. White Collar will start things off on Thursday, returning on hiatus on January 9, paired with Law & Order: SVU reruns. Season 8 of Psych will air on on Wednesdays, beginning on January 8. It is somewhat surprising that USA chose a drama, Suits, instead of a comedy like Psych or Modern Family as a lead-in for new comedy Sirens. “As a top cable drama, Suits has a huge following of young viewers making a perfect segue to Denis Leary and Bob Fisher’s brand of comedy,” said USA”s EVP Jackie de Crinis. “Both series feature sharp, witty banter from an ensemble of great characters.”